The trails in the Grand Canyon range from wide, manicured gravel highways to rocky, hard-to-follow singletrack, but they all have two things in common: They're steep and hot. Grades often exceed 10 percent, and mid-canyon temperatures routinely hit 100 degrees F by late morning. When packing for a spring, summer, or fall hike down into the gorge, make sure you prepare for these hazards by selecting sturdy models of the following products.
Also see our complete vacation packing list.
Since you're not carrying a lot of food or extra clothes for a daylong adventure in the Grand Canyon's heat, your pack doesn't need to be huge-- but it does need to carry at least three quarts of water comfortably for several hours. BACKPACKER testers voted the CamelBak Fourteener their favorite new daypack this year, in part because it features a reinforced frame and swiveling shoulder straps (click here to read a full review. They also loved the air channels in the back padding, which keeps sweaty backs cool. Bonus: This pack comes with an insulated 100-ounce water reservoir (ice water for hours!).
2. WATER BLADDER:
We're big fans of CamelBak's reservoirs, which areso tough that one of our editors was able to drive a truck over one without bursting it. Whichever brand you buy, look for a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning, and an on/off valve to prevent inadvertent leaks. For a half-day hike, pack 2-3 quarts of water; for longer outings, take 5-6. (Photo courtesy CamelBak)
3. TREKKING POLES:
Sturdy aluminum hiking sticks provide two key benefits in the Grand Canyon: shock absorption (great for your knees) and stability (great for your ankles and anything that could break if you fall). Improve your balance and lessen the impact of steep trails with Komperdell's Contour Titanal, a lightweight telescoping model that packs small but takes years of abuse. Learn how to give your trekking poles a long life and find your perfect pair. (Photo courtesy Countour Titanal)
4. ALTIMETER WATCH:
One easy-- and common-- mistake made by new canyon hikers is descending too far before turning around. It's easy to drop 2,000 or 3,000 feet very quickly here, then realize you have a big return climb with little water and/or daylight. Avoid this mistake by monitoring your elevation and turnaround time with an altimeter watch like High Gear's AltiTech 2. (Photo courtesy High Gear Alitech)
Okay, so it's not all about safety-- you want to bring home memorable photos, right? In recent field testing, we've seen a lot of excellent tiny point-and-shoots like the bargain ($175) Canon Powershot A1000IS, which features an image stabilizer and take 10MP images. And for high-end users who want pro-quality pics and geotagging, there's the Nikon Coolpix P6000
($350), which saves GPS data with every image so you can drag-and-drop it onto Google Earth and other digital maps. This camera won BACKPACKER's Editors' Choice Award this year. (Photo courtesy Canon)
For complete gear checklists for this and other types of hiking trips, visit www.backpacker.com/gear/checklist/.